Mina: Rain soaked crowds of
Muslim pilgrims and lightning flashed today as they performed
some of the final rituals of the annual hajj, stoning symbols
of the devil and circling the Kaaba, Islam`s holiest site.
Some 2.8 million Muslims from all over the world,
including 1,75,000 Indians were participating in the
pilgrimage this year, and some were finishing the rites today,
though many would continue for another day.
The pilgrims walked seven times around the Kaaba, a
cube-shaped shrine in Mecca, in a "farewell" ritual before
leaving. Others were in the desert valley of Mina, several
miles away, throwing stones at three walls representing Satan
in a symbolic rejection of temptation.
Pilgrims` struggles to navigate the holy sites through
the massive crowds that jam roads and streets was made more
difficult by rain late yesterday and today. In Mina, drenched
pilgrims took shelter under whatever structures they could
find. During the stoning, waves of people move along a giant
multi-level bridge that takes them past the three walls so
they can throw their stones and with the rain coming down, the
top, exposed level usually packed was empty.
Still, for most the rain didn`t damped the powerful
emotion of the religious experience.
"This makes me a strong Muslim, God is very big and
I`m very small. I was like a child asking for help from his
mother and father," Seifallah Khan, a 38-year-old from
Karachi, Pakistan, said of his feelings as he performed the
An Egyptian from the Nile Delta, 60-year-old Sayed
Mutwalli, said that now that he was retired, he could finally
fulfill his dream of performing Hajj. But, he added, "age has
its limits. There`s a lot of difficulties but God gives you
Going on Hajj is a religious duty for every Muslim
capable of performing it. Some faithful save up money their
whole lives to make the trip others repeat it multiple times
to relive the feeling of closeness to God they say it brings.
The rites, which began Monday, harken back to
Islam`s Prophet Muhammad as well as to Abraham, the Biblical
patriarch whom Muslims also revere and who they say built the
Kaaba. Muslims around the world face the shrine every day
while performing prayers.
Farag Khalil, an Egyptian butcher in his 50s, said
it was his third time performing the pilgrimage. "I hope from
God that for as long as I live I manage to make it to Hajj,"
he said. "Prayers in Mecca are like a 100,000 times (the
value) of prayer from any other mosque."